Rx for Associations Looking to Engage Younger Professionals


By Boardroom editors

How can associations ensure that the youngest and brightest minds in their industry have the tools needed to succeed when current leaders are ready to pass the torch? That’s a crucial question, particularly for medical and scientific associations that, with the exit of baby boomers and entry of younger generations into the workplace, are constantly on the lookout for ways to increase membership.

One example of a successful association strategy comes from the Italian Society of General Medicine (SIMG), which created a “parallel young board” for which one representative is selected each year to sit alongside the executive board. In addition, the organisation specifically targeted younger general practitioners at its recent 2018 SIMG Congress in Florence with dedicated practical courses and discounted rates. The result: More than half of the 2,800 participants fell into the “under 35” age group — a first for an SIMG congress.

For advice on how associations can attract the next generation, Boardroom reached out to Rosangela Quieti, managing director, congress division Italy, at AIM Group International, which has worked with a variety of medical associations. Here are recommended strategies for medical, and other, associations:

What is a simple way associations can engage the millennial market?

An effective way to attract more young delegates is to create a contest to select the most talented young professionals and give them the possibility to take part in the association’s core annual meeting through a full sponsorship. This will give them motivation and a sense of positive competition. At the same time, the annual meeting will become very coveted among applicants, who will have greater expectations and more enthusiasm when it comes to participating.

Networking is key for all age groups, but why is it particularly important for associations to create dedicated sessions that specifically target young attendees’ needs?

Meeting people, exchanging ideas, and sharing opinions are always on top of the positive experiences people take home after a conference. It is important for everyone, but younger people are not always aware of that; they go to a conference mainly to learn and develop their knowledge. That is, of course, one of the key objectives of the association, but networking is important as well, and young delegates sometimes need help. Dedicated sessions, such as “speed-dating” between young delegates and industry leaders, for example, would be a powerful way to establish fruitful contacts.

How are social networks and communication key to engaging with young people?

Millennials were born with smartphones in their hands, so you can catch their attention if you are on social media and tell your story on those platforms. Going live on social media with consistent and continuous storytelling is what associations should do to showcase their day-to-day activities. This will help show the younger generation why the association could be useful to their development as a professional. Millennials are constantly looking for real experiences which they can identify with and emulate in some way. In other words, they will only trust you if you address them with the right voice and convey the values they believe in.

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